• Savage Stance 9x19 Micro-Compact Pistol Review

    In January of 2022 Savage Arms surprised the shooting industry and customer base by re-entering the handgun market with a new Stance line of semi-automatic micro-compact striker-fired pistols. Primarily known for their extensive lines of both centerfire and rimfire bolt-action rifles, and more recently gaining traction in the budget-minded shotgun market with their Stevens 301 single-shot, 320 pump-action and 555 over-under series shotguns, no one really expected to see Savage jump into the already grossly over-saturated polymer-framed pistol market.

    Savage's new Stance line of pistols definitely won't set the world on fire with any notable new design or styling innovations. Featuring an all too common molded polymer frame with stainless steel slide and barrel, the design of the Stance mirrors that of most any other popular striker-fired pistol currently on the market whether it's a Glock, Springfield XD, Smith & Wesson M&P, etc. As such, breaking down the Stance is all but identical to those other pistols as well. In short, it's a design that's proven itself for decades now and Savage saw no reason to try and change it.

    The exterior aesthetics and ergonomics of the Stance pistol is where Savage did make some changes, and in my view they did an exceptional job. Visual styling is very subjective so I won't go into that other than to say I was happy with how it looks. In terms of ergonomics, all of the controls are well placed within easy reach and where you would expect them to be. The reach to the trigger is a little shorter than other pistols making it a good choice for smaller framed shooters, but other than that it felt pretty normal in the hand and nothing negative jumped out at me.

    What really stood out to me though was the grip texture on the Stance as it's by far one of the best molded in textures I've experienced on a handgun. Getting a molded-in grip texture right can be a difficult task due to the manufacturing process. The texture on my Kahr for example is horrible and extremely abrasive to my hands, while the texture on my first generation M&P is a little too find and doesn't offer the best traction. Savage seems to have found that Goldilocks texture for the Stance as it offers great grip and traction without being abrasive or course to the skin. Best thing I can think of to compare it to would be skateboard tape, which makes as a target texture considering many top competitive shooters modify their pistols grip areas by applying skateboard tape to them.

    While there is currently only one size offered for the Stance, it is offered in several different configurations to suit your needs. The standard model offers no safety, but models with a manual safety are available for those who like that added level of security. The standard (base) sights are a 3-dot arrangement with white dots at the rear and an orange dot in the front. Optional sights include TruGlo night sights or a Viridian laser sight at additional cost. The Stance uses the same sights as a Glock 43 so changing them out with your preferred aftermarket set should be a breeze. The Stance is also offered in three different polymer frame colors are available as well: black, grey and flat dark earth. All models come with two single-stack magazines, one flush-fitting magazine holding 7-rounds and one extended 8-round magazine. Overall there are currently 14 combinations to choose from.

    One thing worth noting is that all of the controls on the Stance are ambidextrous making it one of only a few 100% lefty-friendly compact handguns on the market. That being said, the controls on the right side for us lefties aren't the greatest or most functional. For example, try as I might I could never manage to release the slide with the tiny little nub offered on the right side as it just doesn't offer enough purchase area to apply sufficient force. The magazine release on the right side doesn't stick out as far as it does on the left, but does function as it should. The manual safety lever on the right side is slightly slimmer and is not as easy to manipulate as the slightly larger lever on the left side.

    I specifically requested a manual safety model with laser sight so I could evaluate all of the available options (sans the TruGlo night sights of course).

    The MSRP for the Stance ranges from $479 to $561 depending on sight options at the time of this writing. Additional details, specifications and model options can be found on Savage's website:

    Range testing the Stance got off to a very rocky start - soo much so that I almost boxed it up and sent it back to Savage. On my first outing I had roughly a 70% failure rate with the sample I received. This was "as delivered" right out of the box, no cleaning or lubricating on my part. Failures consisted of three types: failure to return fully to battery, failure to pick up the next round, and an occasional stovepipe. To make matters worse, Savage apparently never sighted this unit at the factory as my groups were consistently 8-10 to the right of my aim point with the irons.

    Upon returning from that initial range session I promptly gave the Stance a thorough cleaning and a liberal application of gun grease. It was clearly very dry from the factory, so my hope was that this would resolve the majority of the issues I experienced the first time out. I also bumped the rear sight over slightly in hope that my groups would at least hit the target the next time out rather than being just off the right side of it.

    My second range trip faired a lot better, but was still far from perfect. The number of failures to fully return to battery were greatly reduced and now just a rare oddity, but I was still getting a stovepipe or a failure to pickup the next round once every few magazines. Either condition could easily be ammo related or just be a break-in thing with the gun itself, but both remained fairly consistent through my roughly 300 rounds of testing.

    The third and final range trip pretty much mirrored the second. By the end of that third session though I had become familiar enough with the Stance that I felt comfortable commenting on a few things I had noticed.

    The standard 3-dot sights included on the base and laser sighted models work very well and allow for quick alignment and target acquisition and seemed to work best with a six o`clock hold. The Viridian laser sight was surprisingly powerful and easily activated via the push button on either side of the unit. I wasn't able to find a published effective range of this laser, but I can attest to the fact that I had no problem seeing the dot on the side of a building in the dark of night out to a verified distance of 70 yards - the furthest distance tested and well beyond the distances most would ever attempt to shoot from with a compact handgun of this nature.

    While the sights were a plus, the trigger on the Stance left a lot to be desired. It's far from horrible, but it's not exactly great either. The trigger on this sample had a very long and gritty take-up, eventually hitting a firm wall before giving you a clean break. Trigger pull averaged right around 6.5-pounds on my Lyman digital scale which is ok, but not great. Additionally, the reset for the trigger is a mile long - as in all the way back out to rest long.

    The other negative I found was Savage's rather poor attempt to incorporate an interchangeable backstrap to allow customizing the grip fit on the Stance. I'll just be blunt and honest here - Savage really half-assed the execution as the changeable piece is only maybe two inches or so long by maybe a half-inch wide, and only two options are offered - flat and nearly flat. The feature really looks and feels like it was an afterthought compared to the systems found on other pistols on the market, and I wasn't able to discern any noticeable difference in feel or fit when swapping between the two pieces.

    In terms of accuracy I had to admit that I struggled with the Stance. I can't put my finger on why that would be other than it just never really felt "right" in my hand. I even put a few rounds through my similarly sized EDC pistol to verify it wasn't just me having a bad day. The vast majority of my groups at 15 yards fell into the 6-8" range which is adequate for a personal defense pistol to get the job done at that distance, but I'm used to getting groups about half that size (3-5") from my EDC pistol.

    Any seasoned pistol shooter knows that the fit and feel in the hand is key to picking out a handgun, so I'm just going to assume that me and the Stance just weren't going to be two peas in a pod in that regard. It's the same reason I prefer M&P's over Glocks - they just feel better in my hand and I shoot them better - but doesn't make the Glocks bad guns.

    Overall I think Savage did a very good job with the Stance, especially given that this is their first foray into the compact handgun market in over 100 years. I wouldn't say it's perfect as no product ever is, but it's a solid foundation for Savage to build from and improve upon with minor tweaks and refinements in the coming years. As for whether or not you should buy one, that really depend on you and your needs. I don't expect to see many gun owners running out to sell their current carry guns to get one of these, but if you're new to the game or just looking for the next addition to your collection I think the Stance is well worth giving a good hard look and even a test drive if possible.

    ----- Size comparison to a Kahr CM9 -----

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Dave Hoback's Avatar
      Dave Hoback -
      Wow! All I can say is that pistol is almost worthy of HiPoint Fugly-ness, YIKES! But apparently it doesn’t even shoot as good as a HiPoint.

      I have to disagree with one important point in the article. The article stated “Any seasoned pistol shooter knows that the fit & feel in the hand is key to picking out a handgun.” While I concede that is popular thinking, and true, why a specific pistol is usually chosen by an individual. However, it’s actually as bad a habit as how inexperienced shooters will lean back while shooting. Or bring the sights UP to head/eye level, instead of bringing their head/eye level DOWN to the sight profile. Or even how almost every newer shooter will grip a pistol with support hand covering the thumb, or the good ‘ol cup & saucer grip, because those grips FEEL more comfortable. These are habits I would typically have to train OUT of shooters, as an instructor. One word I’ve always hated associated with firearms is “ergonomics”! Comfort & Shootability are not synonymous. It is shootability that should be key to choosing a carry handgun. Whenever I’ve been asked “which pistol should I get”, my answer has always been the same: find a range that has rentals & test fire the pistols you like. Choose the one with the best shootability. May surprise a number of them to find the best shooting is not the the one that feels the best.

      Great article. Thank you.
    1. hoehndude's Avatar
      hoehndude -
      I have had much better experiences on my outings with my Stance, which lacks the laser and external safety that you had on your model. I had no failures to feed or extract, and groupings were palm sized at 15 yards. The texturing of the grip does a good job of keeping the pistol well seated in my hand, but it also likes to abrade the skin along my side when I wear it in a holster that doesn't fully cover the grip. Speaking of holsters, it sits reasonably well in ones modeled for the S&W Shield but I haven't tried any retention holsters of that type. I bought this when it went on sale at a local store for $229 mainly for nostalgia reasons, but I've found that I actually like shooting the gun and look forward to the ten round magazine becoming available again.
    1. Mr65's Avatar
      Mr65 -
      Just what the world needed, another Tupperware, striker fired, fugly pistol. Why would anyone buy this at that price point? Not sure what market they are trying to appeal to but for that money I would buy a tried and true handgun, not a new to market fuglynator. Just my 2Cents.
    1. bluealtered's Avatar
      bluealtered -
      Thanks for the review, as a review the pistol leaves a lot to be corrected before I need one. I did like the photos of it with the Kahr CM9 since I carry a CM9, (among others) at times.